Like a good neighbor, the state of Pennsylvania is sending equipment and personnel to help neighboring Buffalo, New York, dig out from the recent deadly winter storm that dumped more than four feet of snow in the region and has taken 38 lives at last count.
Wolf said that his state’s department of transportation is sending nine dump trucks and associated operators and support personnel to help New York staff with clearing snow from roadways in and around the Buffalo area. PennDOT crews are expected to arrive today to begin 24-hour operations.
“Pennsylvanians know how debilitating winter storms can be, and we’re happy that we can support our neighbors to the north when they need our help,” said Wolf.
The assistance is being made in accordance with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement that allows states to share resources during disasters. All costs are paid by the requesting state.
More than 600 National Guard troops have been going into neighborhoods that lost electricity conducting wellness checks on residents. In total, more than 170,000 power outages were reported in western New York and Buffalo throughout the storm.
Residents have been found dead in their homes and cars. The county said the death toll has now reached 38 in Buffalo and suburbs and is expected to rise.
As Buffalo continues plowing streets, clearing storm drains and moving abandoned cars, the almost week-long driving ban in Buffalo was lifted starting today. “While we’re lifting the travel ban and replacing it with a travel advisory, we are still encouraging people to be careful,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz also warned drivers to be cautious. “Hundreds of very large pieces of equipment will still be out clearing streets from curb-to-curb,” he Tweeted.
Buffalo’s airport reopened Wednesday.
Mayor Brown said Buffalo police are investigating looting at local stores and have made nearly 10 arrests.
Flood, Insurance Preparations
Erie County officials are preparing for the possibility of flooding. Some sow is expected to melt as temperatures rise to the low 50s on Friday, and rain is possible, the National Weather Service said, although the service said that any flooding should be minor.
To be safe, New York Governor Kathy Hochul directed state agencies to prepare flood response assets Hochul said the state has made nearly 800,000 sandbags and more than 300 pumps and generators available to mitigate flood-related problems.
The state is also taking steps to help those with insurance claims and those needing access to their money.
The New York Department of Financial Services said it is issuing temporary adjuster permits to qualified out-of-state independent insurance adjusters in order to expedite insurance claims. Expediting permits will increase the number of adjusters available to process claims and help New Yorkers get their claims paid faster. Insurers are encouraged to make any necessary applications on the DFS website.
NYDFS has also asked banks and credit unions operating in the area to provide fee-free services to nearby customers and non-customers while travel conditions remain dangerous. The state said that allowing customers to access essential banking services, even if they do not have a relationship with that institution, will limit the need for travel. Such relief may include waiving ATM fees, increasing ATM cash withdrawal limits, or easing restrictions on cashing non-customer checks.
“We are using every tool at our disposal to provide New Yorkers, homeowners, and small businesses – the backbone of our economy – with relief during this historic winter storm and encourage people to stay home,” Hochul said.
Photo: A front end loader dump snow into a dump truck as crews clear large amounts of snow, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in Buffalo N.Y., days after a winter storm passed through. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
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